The Roman Catholic church of St John the Evangelist and the Black Madonna of Częstochowa, Bartoszyce
Narodowy Instytut Dziedzictwa pl

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The Roman Catholic church of St John the Evangelist and the Black Madonna of Częstochowa



An outstanding example of a Gothic town church. The church in Bartoszyce is a rare example of a basilica with a polygonal end section which survives in the territory of the former State of the Teutonic Order.


The history of the church of St John the Evangelist and the Black Madonna of Częstochowa in Bartoszyce begins back in 1332, when the grand master of the Teutonic Order Luter from Braunschweig issued a new location privilege with respect to the town, in which he provided that certain parts of the land were to be donated to the town parish priest. The distortion of the otherwise regular network of streets in the immediate neighbourhood of the church suggest that an even older structure could have stood on the site where the present church is situated, its structure most likely incorporated into the existing building during its construction. The church was built in two stages: in the 14th century and in the 15th century. During the first phase, a pseudo-basilica church was erected. Chancel with a polygonal apse was the first section to be constructed. Before the mid-14th century, the construction of the three-nave, three-bay and pseudo-basilica church commenced; the new church featured an organ gallery on the garret level and a tower with a square floor plan in the west. The main nave was probably erected in the 2nd half of the 14th century. Information contained in the literature on the subject suggests that the construction of the nave commenced in the mid-14th century and was completed in years 1360-1390. It was also at this stage that the construction of the tower began, although initially only the first storey thereof was built. On the extension of the aisles, two rectangular chapels were built. Inside the aisles, stellar vaults were constructed. Originally, the main nave did not have a vault. It was either covered by a flat ceiling or featured an open roof truss structure. Soon after the completion of the main body, the chancel was extended slightly upwards, reaching the same height as the main nave; in addition, a two-storey northern sacristy was also built. At this stage of construction, the height of the church reached the current level of the cornice running underneath the second line of chancel windows. During the second stage of construction which took place in the 15th century, the church was modified, receiving a basilica layout. The organ gallery of the church was extended and then the main nave of the church was extended upwards considerably; as a result, the building became a basilica church - a rare sight in the territories of the former State of the Teutonic Order. The precise date of the upward extension the main nave is not known, although it might have taken place somewhere around 1400-1450. The stellar vault of the main nave was completed before 1487. During this phase, two further storeys of the tower were also constructed. At the turn of the 14th and 15th centuries, a chapel was added to the southern facade (the Marian chapel); during the 16th century the construction of the chapels by the tower ended and the last; the fourth storey of the tower was also built during that period. The top section of the tower was constructed in 1732. During the 18th century the western and southern portals were modified. The northern porch was erected in 1882. The church was seriously damaged in 1945 (destruction of the vaults) and reconstructed in 1946-1958. The final form of the church - a tall basilica with a polygonal end section, along with the distinctive interior layout (the arcades separating the naves look as if they had been cut out in the wall and not as if they are supported by columns or pillars) is reminiscent of similar structures which were built in the Lower Silesia (the church of St Elisabeth in Wrocław). The presence of tall niches in the main walls, framing the arches positioned between the naves, is a nod towards Cistercian architecture; apart from the church in Bartoszyce, this design was also applied in churches in Pelplin, Starogard Gdański, Orneta and Gdańsk. The difference between these buildings and the church in Bartoszyce is that they incorporate the pillar as a load-bearing structure, whereas in Bartoszyce it is the space between the arches itself that serves the purpose of introducing spatial divisions. This solution was also used in the Königsberg cathedral. The layout of the Bartoszyce church, namely that of a basilica with an organ gallery, decorated with quarter-round brick profiles, is also reminiscent of certain buildings found in Denmark (the church of St Nicholas in Slagelse).


The church is located in a northern part of the old town in Bartoszyce, near the towns walls. It is a Gothic building, made of brick and oriented towards the east, featuring a three-nave, three-bay basilica layout with a two-bay chancel with a polygonal end section with buttresses and a four-storey tower positioned in the western part of the church. Two chapels were erected alongside the southern facade, while a new porch was added to the northern facade. The gable roof of the church features a steeple and is clad with monk-and-nun ceramic roof tiles. The tall main body of the church is compact in shape, its dominant feature being a four-storey tower with a Baroque dome. The facades of the church are divided into two distinct sections. The upper section of the nave is partitioned by a row of windows and smaller blind windows arranged in an alternating pattern; the chancel facade has a number of windows and, unlike the nave, does not feature any blind windows. The lower section of the church is partitioned by windows positioned in the chancel section as well as on the chapel level. The interior of the church was designed as a single space (integration of the nave body and presbytery), divided into two levels. Above the aisles the church features bricked up arcades which were originally open towards the main nave. The church features stellar vaults. Naves separated from each other by means of pointed-arch arcades, with the individual arches piercing the divider walls. The walls are additionally accentuated by means of shallow niches, each of them topped by a pointed arch. The main decorative element used are quarter-round brick profiles. The most valuable part of the interior fittings is the Late-Gothic Crucifixion Group from around 1500.

The structure is accessible from the outside. The building may be visited upon prior telephone appointment.

Prepared by Joanna Jakutowicz, Regional Branch in Olsztyn, 29.07.2014.



  • Büttner S., Die Stadtprarrkirche St Johannes Evangelistae zu Bartenstein, Königsberg 1942.
  • Soćko A., Kościół św. Jana Ewangelisty w Bartoszycach na tle średniowiecznej architektury sakralnej w Prusach [w] Studia Zamkowe, t. IV, 2012, s. 217-227.
  • Soćko A., Układy emporowe w architektutrze Państwa Krzyżackiego, Warszawa 2005, s. 45-48, 154-155.
  • Mroczko T., Kościół p.w. św. Jana Ewangelisty [Bartoszyce] [w:] Architektura gotycka w Polsce red. T. Mroczko, M. Arszyński, Katalog zabytków, red. Włodarek A., Warszawa 1995, s. 23-24.
  • Dehio G., Gall E., Handbuch der deutschen KunstdenkmällerWEst- und Ostpreussen, München - Berlin 1952, s. 320-322.
  • Bötticher A., die Bau- und Kunstdenkmäler der Provinz Ostpreussen, h. II. Natangen, Königsberg 1898, p. 33

General information

  • Type: church
  • Chronology: 1332-1400
  • Form of protection: register of monuments
  • Address: pl. Wolności , Bartoszyce
  • Location: Voivodeship warmińsko-mazurskie, district bartoszycki, commune Bartoszyce (gm. miejska)
  • Source: National Heritage Board of Poland


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